At Creation, the harvest is now in full swing, which means many of the secrets of winemaking are coming into play. Let’s look at just three of the lesser known practices occurring in cellars across the Southern Hemisphere at this time of year.
Literally from the French word meaning ‘to bleed’, this is a very interesting tool with a dual purpose. When producing red wine, the skins and the juice of the crushed grapes must macerate so that the colourless juice can extract colour, tannin, etc. from the skins. Saignée is the removal of juice from the fermentation tanks after just a few hours of skin contact, increasing the ratio of skins to juice and concentrating the desirable tannin and colour in the finished wine.
Ever noticed a white powdery coating on grapes? This perfectly natural and harmless substance is known as ‘bloom’ and it contains waxes produced by the fruit itself. This helps to protect the plant from moisture loss; however, it also contains the ambient yeasts found in nature. At Creation these native yeasts are allowed to start spontaneous fermentation capturing a unique character in the wine.
Bloom on the Merlot grapes, a natural wax to protect water evaporation
During fermentation yeast converts sugar to alcohol and CO2. The CO2 gas forces the skins to form a cap above the wine and this cap needs to be mixed through, both to extract colour and tannin, but also to prevent the formation of acetic acid (vinegar). This process is known as ‘pigeage’ and was traditionally done by foot. However there are now more practical solutions such as the gentle pneumatic presses used at Creation. Some wines respond better to a gentle extraction process, and these wines are often punched down by hand.